Thursday, December 11, 2008

So what can YOU do about terrorism...?

...apart from whining, bitching and complaining?

The Terror Attacks in Bombay on the 27th of Nov were a disaster. Many people lost their lives, many more lost their loved ones. My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

Such events always elicit a whole range of emotional outbursts and responses. A lot of people have been openly advocating "wiping out Pakistan" and such emotionally charged, destructive ideas. But the silver lining is that everyone's agitated, and everyone really wants to do something about this problem.

I was involved in a very interesting mail discussion just a few days after the attacks, while wounds were fresh and emotions were charged. My good friend, Tarika was expressing her sadness at the irrational jingoistic talk of war and revenge going on, and offering alternative, peaceful solutions and viewpoints. There were ambitious young adults (like Ta and I), and a lot of accomplished "more experienced" adults like Ganesh Natarajan on the thread, each offering their 2 paise on the topic...

My response sums up my thoughts on Terror, and something each one of us can do about it...


Tari, I can see why you were hurt. Its ludicrous to "blame Pakistan and all Pakistanis".
But I'm impressed that so many of us are passionate about solving this problem, and sensible/open to discussion. Lets hope this passion translates to action, however big or small.

Here's a good analysis of the motives/consequences of the attack -

Here's my take on the "terror" issue:

First Things First...
Let's call the terrorists "Jihadis". Evidently, they came from Pakistan.
Also lets not forget that the Pak Govt itself is also a victim of terrorism inside Pakistan, and I'm guessing they'd like to curb the Jihadi's too.

Why did they attack Mumbai?
The Jihadi's didn't have any specific demands. They just wanted to make a point. A well orchestrated and strategic point that could not possibly be ignored. (The earlier blasts in India hardly elicited any reaction)

So what IS the point?
Before Mumbai Attacks : Pak Govt was helping US on the Afghan border against Taliban and Jihadis.
After the Attacks : The Indian govt is likely to pressurise Pakistan Eastern border. The US needs Pak forces on western border, which will have to be diverted to the eastern border.The US will pressurise India to calm down.
They just wanted to stir things up in India so that all three of their adversaries - Indian Govt., Pak Govt. and US Govt. waste time fighting amongst each other, instead of uniting against them.

Mayhem in Pakistan just gives the Jihadis even more power and freedom.

First and foremost, the Indian defence/police/security/intelligence forces need to get their act together!
Option 1 : Take over Pakistan. Clean out the terrorists. Rebuild the country.
(This is just too messy and expensive! No one is going to want to do that, and rightly so.)
Option 2 : Partner with Paki Govt to curb the Jihadis. The Pak govt is closest to the problem, and can be the most effective in solving it.
Manmohan and Zardari need to be intelligent... They need to work together [1] to clean up the mess. [2]
The US will help us cos they have a stake in Afghanistan, and need to clean that up as well.

So what's the "real" problem here? (Understand the "enemy"...)
The Jihadi masterminds are super smart, educated (and often philosophical) people with their own vision of how the world should be... In their minds, they are visionaries who are realising their destiny! And they use brainwashed young, hot blooded boys as pawns to push their own plans and agendas...

Destroying the terrorist training centres would be a big first step, but that's still attacking only the symptoms. We have to identify and cure the root cause. We might not be able to get each and every "visionary mastermind", but we definitely need to wake up the pawns and keep them productively occupied.

How do we WIN 'the war on terrorism'?
If there's one thing I've learned from resurgent crime and terrorism, it's that you can never win "against" them.
You just can't afford to play Win-Lose games, even if you're on the winning side...The problem with Win-Lose is that when you stop playing (beating them), the "losers" are gonna get back at you... (Just look at the Naxalites, Zimbabwe, South Africa etc)

Humans, today more than ever before, are "connected", for better or for worse. There cannot be a "them". There's only "us". Any viable long term solution has got to be Win Win.

What can WE do?
Mature, evolved people like you and I need to step up and spread some light in these dark, idle minds. We need some hard core Muslims [3] to get up and challenge fundamentalist ideology, teaching the kids to love and create, not to hate and destroy in the name of "God".
We have organisations like Isha Foundation and Art Of Living in India, which adopt villages, and educate+train the unemployed/uneducated/idle youth, equipping them with skills to make them self sufficient and productive.
We need similar efforts in Pakistan, and Afghanistan, in India and all over the world.
The problem is universal... In India, Pak, Africa, Ireland, everywhere! And not just in Hindu's or Muslims or any particular religion/sect.

Doing my bit...
I'm taking my first baby step. I've spoken to a couple of Muslim friends of mine (Indian and Paki), and we're planning to start an online community/blog thing to get things moving and gain momentum. Let me know if anyone's interested.

- Pratik

[1]Apart from solving the problem, Manmohan & Zardari need to play the political game right in order to remain in power. (An unfortunate result of the otherwise decent system of Democracy)
For Manmohan that means he needs to look like he's taking action. [pressurising Pak border].
For Zardari, he needs to look strong, secure and independent of India/US.
And the Kashmir issue makes co-operation even more difficult.

[2] Cleaning up includes punishing the terrorists and all their supporters, stifling their funds etc etc etc.

[3] Especially Muslims, cos ideas coming from an evolved Muslim might be more palatable to the ignorant, impressionable "less evolved" Muslim in Pakistan.


Unknown said...

Yaaay, Pratik. I'm always up to be involved.. and believe me, Isha is also always looking for more people to get involved in their revolution...

See you soon, uncle.

Zareen said...


Infinity said...

The solution lies in understanding all the WHY's of the situation, and doing something about them. Why would someone go to the lengths of killing hundreds of people? Why would they be a part of a suicidal clan? Why INDIA? What's the real motive, it can't be just killing people even if it is then why is it so?

There are a huuge number of questions, so either we need to find out the answers and methodically resolve them or there's always a brute force way of doing it. No Amount of protests, no communities, no security measures are gonna do any good. Its either pure force or a methodical analysis and resolution of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Very well put Pratik. Fundamentalists in any religion are bad. Proper secular education right from the primary level may be the only solution

Pratik Stephen said...

@ Afrin, Zareen : Glad you guys are enthu about this... I'm in the process of clarifying the concept and evaluating how we can make the maximum impact. Will keep you'll posted...

@ Tosif : What do you think are some of the core reasons? And how do you think we can solve the root problem?
We should meet up the next time I'm in Pune... We'll chat about it.

@ Yamini : True that... Secular education, and opportunity/means to be productive.

@ others : Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
I want to hear suggestions form people who can join in.
I also want to hear from those who disagree and have constructive arguments.

Vikas said...

the point is that the community under consideration should realise that something is wrong somewhere. by just saying that a few ppl dont represent the religion doesnt stop the "few ppl" now does it ?
why not have anti terrorist propaganda at madarsa's or where ever ppl get wrongly influenced ?
it is too big a monster we are trying to tame.. and lets face it.. neighbours or no neighbours.. they couldnt have pulled this off without local help.. we need to have the moderate voice louder than the extremist voice..
its a beautiful religion with great philosophers and saints.. brilliant artists from every field.. why not highlight all that ??

Vikas said...

and one last thing..

spirit of bombay.. utter bullshit..

i was in office on 29th nov at nariman point.. only out of compulsion.. no one in his right mind would venture to nariman point just a few meters away from the grenade hurling terrorists ?!?

and that was what everyone at office also felt..

but leo was opened the next day.. "spirit" of bbay ?

Anonymous said...

It's strange how so many people cant see the simplest answer to solve the root of the problem - STOP MEDDLING - stop fucking with muslims business and they won't repay the favor.

Wasted effort - the idea you propose on educating muslims - they aren't dumb. But if you go and blow shit up and take away someone's freedom there is bound to be slashback. Religion is just a tool used for revenge.

Take Gandhi's / Jesus' approach - PEACE. Eliminate their insecurity.

Unknown said...

I think we need to play down this mass hysteria of religion that's enveloping the masses today.... Pragmatically speaking religion provides us with a basic pillar of support that we need...i mean the average human feels more secure if he/she can assign divine causes to events or actions beyond comprehension...
Perhaps the need of the hour is to redefine spirituality and religion, to make it a path of the individual rather than that of the masses....maybe then this constant reference to these monstrous jehadis as Islamic Extremists will end...
Drop in a line if i can contribute Sir...Gaurav Mukherjee

Anonymous said...

I hope your enthusiasm dint go down like the Bombay Spirit....
Im writing today to ask you if you did infact do something out of the things that you had listed in your blog...
Its just that we all get charged up when someone hurts us or hurts something thats close to us(In this case our country) but then after a few shouts we all get back to our very own business like protecting our country isnt our business.. its only for the ARMY, the NAVY or the AIRFORCE!!!
And if it so why dont we all try and help them..
We all dont have to leave our respective carriers and join the defense but wats wrong in atleast being equipped to protect ourselves...

Also, there isnt anything like the ONLY solution...
Yes, but the stepping stone could be secular education(But again the question..would that be possible in Pakistan with all the jihad and its preachings)
Before we try to change Pakistan we need make INDIA a secular country..
We all need to do our bit...
Elect the right people to run our country..
Educate the unemployed idle youth...
Raise a voice against injustice...
Cause the change has to be brought within ourselves...
We need to Unite first to fight against any sort of terrorism!!!